Good luck with that: Angels 'working hard' to deal Gary Matthews Jr.

Leave a comment

FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports that “the Angels are working hard to trade Gary Matthews Jr.” Of course, if the Angels could have traded Matthews without eating a significant portion of his remaining contract they would have done so long ago.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports recently ranked Matthews’ five-year, $50 million deal as the eighth-worst contract handed out this decade, and the Angels still owe him $23 million over the next two seasons. How much of that money would they have to eat in order to find a taker for the 35-year-old Matthews?
In an effort to answer that question Sam Miller of the Orange County Register wondered what type of contract Matthews would get on the open market right now, because if you subtract that hypothetical amount from $23 million that’s basically how much the Angels would need to chalk up as a sunk cost.
Naturally, agent Scott Leventhal is in full-on spin mode when it comes to Matthews’ current value:

Gary wants to play every day, and he wants to play center field. He’s still got an amazing amount of talent. The Angels have been notified [of Matthews’ desire for a trade] on a number of occasions. It’s just a matter of whether something can be done.

When agents say things like that, do they realize how ridiculous they sound and how much credibility they lose? Matthews is 35 years old and has gone from overrated to just plain bad defensively while hitting .248/.325/.383 in three seasons with the Angels, including .250/.336/.361 this year. Yet according to Leventhal “he’s still got an amazing amount of talent” and wants to be an everyday center fielder. In related news, my mom thinks I’m still the handsomest boy in the neighborhood and I want to marry Mila Kunis.
Step away from those equally implausible fantasy worlds and Matthews is basically a run-of-the-mill backup outfielder at this point, which would maybe get him a one-year deal for something like $2 million on the open market. If he’s lucky. In other words, for the Angels to find a taker for him they’d likely have to eat upwards of $20 million, which definitely qualifies as “working hard.”

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
5 Comments

A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.